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YA Review: The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander

Title: The Door of No Return
Author: Kwame Alexander
Year published: 2022
Category: YA fiction (historical fiction, verse)
Pages: 432 pages
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location: (my 2022 Google Reading map)Ghana

SummaryYoung Kofi lives and dreams on the banks of the river Offin. He loves these things above all else: his family, the fireside tales of his father’s father, a girl named Ama, and, of course, swimming. It is in the river that he feels invincible and where he thinks he can finally prove himself in a race against his schoolyard rival. But the river also holds dark secrets that Kofi will soon discover. Told never to venture there after nightfall but never told why, Kofi seeks his own answers.
One night is all it takes to transform a life. As his world turns upside down, Kofi ends up on a harrowing journey that steals him away from everything he loves.

Review: Anything by Kwame Alexander is sure to be a success for me and this one is no exception. And the cover is wonderful; it really suits the feeling of the novel.

The intro by Alexander is so poignant. He states how difficult this novel was to write and connected it to how he feels about his history. I love that he showed the brilliance of Ghanian society in the mid 1800s and how it was invaded/torn apart by the arrival of Europeans and the slave trade. I didn't realize that the "door of no return" is an actual structure that still stands today in a number of west African countries. The doors are those that the captured people were lead through onto the ships that took them to the Americas to be enslaved.

He is so good at telling a story through verse, helping the reader to really feel what the characters feel and the lingering affects of their actions. His characters are brave and interesting and my heart went out to them as things began to fall apart.

Challenges for which this counts:
  • Literary Escapes--Ghana
  • Popsugar--Victorian setting (learning English and the Queen's history figures quite large in this novel)

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